Len Wein

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Len Wein
Swamp Thing and Len Wein.jpg
Len Wein (right), with fan dressed as Swamp Thing, at CONvergence 2005
Born (1948-06-12) June 12, 1948 (age 66)
New York City[1]
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Editor
Notable works
Swamp Thing
Wolverine
X-Men
The Human Target
Justice League
Awards Shazam Award, 1972, 1973
Inkpot Award, 1979
Comics Buyers Guide Award, 1982
Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame, 2008
Spouse(s) Glynis (Oliver) Wein (?–?)
Christine Valada

Len Wein (/ˈwn/; born June 12,[2] 1948) is an American comic book writer and editor best known for co-creating DC Comics' Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics' Wolverine, and for helping revive the Marvel superhero team the X-Men (including the co-creation of Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus). Additionally, he was the editor for writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons' influential DC miniseries Watchmen.

Wein was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2008.

Biography[edit]

Early career[edit]

In a 2003 interview, Len Wein recalled that he "was a very sickly kid. While I was in the hospital at age seven, my dad brought me a stack of comic books to keep me occupied. And I was hooked. When my eighth grade art teacher, Mr. Smedley, told me he thought I had actual art talent, I decided to devote all my efforts in that direction in the hope that I might someday get into the comics biz."[3]

Approximately once a month, as a teenager, Wein and his friend Marv Wolfman took DC Comics' weekly Thursday afternoon tour of the company's offices.[3] Wolfman was active in fanzine culture, and together he and Wein produced sample superhero stories to show to the DC editorial staff. At that point, Wein was more interested in becoming an artist than a writer.[4] In a 2008 interview, Wein said his origins as an artist have helped him "describe art to an artist so that I can see it all in my own head", and claimed he "used to have artists, especially at DC, guys like Irv Novick and a few of the others, who would come into the office waiting for their next assignment and ask [editor] Julie Schwartz, 'Do you have any Len Wein scripts lying around? He's always easy to draw.'"[4]

Eventually, DC editor Joe Orlando hired both Wolfman and Wein as freelance writers.[4] Wein's first professional comics story was "Eye of the Beholder" in DC's Teen Titans No. 18 (Dec. 1968), for which he co-created with Wolfman Red Star, the first official Russian superhero in the DC universe. Neal Adams was called upon to rewrite and redraw a Teen Titans story which had been written by Wein and Wolfman. The story, titled "Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho!", would have introduced DC's first African American superhero but was rejected by publisher Carmine Infantino.[5] The revised story appeared in Teen Titans No. 20 (March–April 1969).

Later that year, Wein was writing anthological mystery stories for DC's The House of Secrets and Marvel's Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness. He additionally began writing for DC's romance comic Secret Hearts and the company's toy-line tie-in Hot Wheels; Skywald Publications' horror-comics magazines Nightmare and Psycho and its short-lived Western comic books The Bravados and The Sundance Kid; and Gold Key's Mod Wheels, Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, the toyline tie-in Microbots,[6] and the TV-series tie-ins Star Trek and The Twilight Zone.

DC and Marvel Comics[edit]

Wein's first superhero work for Marvel was a one-off story in Daredevil No. 71 (Dec. 1970) co-written with staff writer/editor Roy Thomas. Wein later began scripting sporadic issues of such DC superhero titles as Adventure Comics (featuring Supergirl and Zatanna), The Flash, and Superman, while continuing to write anthological mysteries, along with well-received stories for the semi-anthological occult title The Phantom Stranger #14–26 (Aug. 1971 – Sept. 1973).

Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson created the horror character Swamp Thing in The House of Secrets No. 92 (July 1971).[7] Over the next several decades, Swamp Thing would star in DC series and miniseries – including an initial 1972–76 series begun by Wein and Wrightson,[8] and the mid-1980s Saga of the Swamp Thing, edited by Wein and featuring early work by writer Alan Moore — as well as two theatrical films, and a syndicated television series. Abigail Arcane, a major supporting character in the character's mythos was introduced by Wein and Wrightson in Swamp Thing No. 3 (Feb.-March 1973).[9] Wein wrote the second story featuring Man-Thing (written circa May 1971, published in June 1972), introducing Barbara Morse and the concept that "Whoever Knows Fear Burns at the Man-Thing's Touch", and later edited Steve Gerber's run on that title.

Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 (May 1975). Cover art by Gil Kane & Dave Cockrum.

Wein wrote a well-regarded run of Justice League of America (issues #100–114) wherein, together with artist Dick Dillin, he re-introduced the Seven Soldiers of Victory in issues #100–102[10] and the Freedom Fighters in issues #107–108.[11] In the fall of 1972, Wein and writers Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart crafted a metafictional unofficial crossover spanning titles from both major comics companies. Each comic featured Englehart, Conway, and Wein, as well as Wein's first wife Glynis, interacting with Marvel or DC characters at the Rutland Halloween Parade in Rutland, Vermont. Beginning in Amazing Adventures No. 16 (by Englehart with art by Bob Brown and Frank McLaughlin), the story continued in Justice League of America No. 103 (by Wein, Dillin and Dick Giordano), and concluded in Thor No. 207 (by Conway and penciler John Buscema). As Englehart explained in 2010, "It certainly seemed like a radical concept and we knew that we had to be subtle (laughs) and each story had to stand on its own, but we really worked it out. It's really worthwhile to read those stories back to back to back – it didn't matter to us that one was at DC and two were at Marvel – I think it was us being creative, thinking what would be really cool to do."[12][13][14] Libra, a supervillain created by Wein and Dillin in Justice League of America No. 111 (May–June 1974),[15] would play a leading role in Grant Morrison's Final Crisis storyline in 2008.

Wein co-created the Human Target with artist Carmine Infantino[16] and wrote the character's appearances as a backup feature in Action Comics, Detective Comics, and The Brave and the Bold. The character was adapted into a short-lived ABC television series starring Rick Springfield which debuted in July 1992,[17] and was briefly revived in 2010 for a two-season series on Fox that starred Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley.

In the early 1970s, Wein began writing regularly for Marvel Comics. He succeeded Roy Thomas as editor-in-chief of the color-comics line in 1974, staying a little over a year before handing the reins to Wolfman. Remaining at Marvel as a writer, Wein had lengthy runs on Marvel Team-Up,[18] The Amazing Spider-Man,[19] The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Fantastic Four, as well as shorter runs on such titles as The Defenders[20] and "Brother Voodoo". Wein co-created Wolverine, with artists John Romita, Sr. and Herb Trimpe during his run on The Incredible Hulk.[21] Wein's story "Between Hammer and Anvil" from The Incredible Hulk Vol. 2, No. 182 (Dec. 1974) was later cited in Tony Isabella's book 1,000 Comics You Must Read.[22]

In 1975, he and artist Dave Cockrum revived the Stan Lee / Jack Kirby mutant-superhero team the X-Men after a half-decade's hiatus, reformatting the membership in Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 (May 1975).[23] Among the characters the duo created for the series were Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, and Thunderbird. Wein plotted the early "new X-Men" stories with artist Cockrum. These issues were then scripted as Uncanny X-Men No. 94 and 95 by Chris Claremont, who subsequently developed the title into one of Marvel's leading franchises.

In 2009, Claremont said, "The history of modern comics would be incredibly different if you took [Wein's] contributions out of the mix. The fact he doesn't get credit for it half the time is disgraceful. We owe a lot of what we are – certainly on the X-Men – to Len and to Dave [Cockrum]".[24]

Return to DC[edit]

At the end of the 1970s, following a dispute with Marvel management, Wein returned to DC as a writer and an editor.

He scripted Batman and collaborated on Green Lantern with artists Dave Gibbons and Mark Farmer. On his first issue of Batman, No. 307 (Jan. 1979), he created Wayne Foundation executive Lucius Fox,[25] later portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the movies Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. With artist Marshall Rogers, Wein co-created the third version of the supervillain Clayface in Detective Comics No. 478 (July–Aug. 1978).[26] He wrote The Untold Legend of the Batman, the first Batman miniseries, in 1980[27] and the following year wrote a DC-Marvel crossover between Batman and the Hulk in DC Special Series No. 27 (Fall 1981).[28] Pandora Pann was a proposed series by Wein and artist Ross Andru which was to have been published in 1982 but other commitments prevented Wein from writing it and the project was cancelled.[29] As editor, he worked on the first twelve issue limited series Camelot 3000, and such successful series as The New Teen Titans, All-Star Squadron, Batman and the Outsiders, Who's Who in the DC Universe, and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's acclaimed and highly influential Watchmen.[30] In 1986, he wrote a revival of the Blue Beetle[31] and dialogued the miniseries Legends over the plots of John Ostrander.[32] The following year, Wein scripted the rebooted Wonder Woman series over penciller George Pérez's plots. With artist Steve Erwin, Wein co-created the superhero Gunfire.

Later career[edit]

DVD cover, Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks

Following his second stint at DC and a move to the West Coast, Wein served as editor-in-chief of Disney Comics for three years in the early 1990s. After leaving Disney, Wein began writing and story editing for such animated television series as X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, Street Fighter, ExoSquad, Phantom 2040, Godzilla, Pocket Dragon Adventures, ReBoot and War Planets: Shadow Raiders. In 2001, he and Wolfman wrote the screenplay Gene Pool for the production company Helkon, and later wrote a prequel to the screenplay for a one-shot comic book for IDW Publishing.

Wein collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek and artist Kelley Jones on the four-issue miniseries Conan: The Book of Thoth for Dark Horse Comics. He has scripted the comics series The Victorian for Penny-Farthing Press and has written comic-book stories for Bongo Comics' TV-series tie-ins The Simpsons and Futurama.

From 2005 to 2008, Wein appeared as a recurring panelist on the Los Angeles-based revival of the TV game show What's My Line? He has written episodes of the Cartoon Network animated series Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Ben 10: Omniverse[33] and the Marvel Super Hero Squad.[33]

Wein has been interviewed for commentary tracks on comics-related DVDs, including the animated Justice League: The New Frontier film, the live-action Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men films, the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film, the Watchmen film, the Swamp Thing TV-series sets, the Human Target first season TV series, and the July 2008 History Channel specials Batman Unmasked and Batman Tech.[34]

He wrote the storyline for the Watchmen video game, The End Is Nigh, which serves as a backstory to both the comic and the film adaptation.[35]

Wein returned to comics writing for DC in the late 2000s,[36] where he collaborated in the DC Comics nostalgic event DC Retroactive writing stories for the one-shot specials Batman – The '70s (September 2011) drawn by Tom Mandrake[37] and Green Lantern – The '80s (October 2011) drawn by Joe Staton. The hardcover collection of his 10-issue DC Universe: Legacies was published in August 2011.[38] In 2012, Wein worked on the Before Watchmen project, writing the mini-series Ozymandias with art by Jae Lee and the serialized feature "Curse of the Crimson Corsair" with art by Watchmen colorist John Higgins. The hardcover collection of the Ozymandias storyline spent several weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2013. [39]

Personal life[edit]

Wein is of Jewish ancestry.[40] Wein's first wife was Glynis Oliver,[41] a comics colorist who spent years on the X-Men titles. His second wife is Christine Valada, a photographer and attorney.[42]

On April 6, 2009, Wein's California home burned down with considerable loss of property and mementos, including his Shazam Awards. He and his wife also lost their dog, Sheba, to the fire.[43]

Beginning October 26, 2009, Valada appeared on and won the television game show Jeopardy!, becoming a four-time champion with winnings of over $60,000. She indicated on the show that she would use the money to recover or replace much of the artwork and books the couple lost in the fire.[44]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Comics

DC[edit]

Action Comics #419-420, 422-423, 425-426, 429, 432 (Human Target),519 (Aquaman) (1972-1974,1981)

Adventure Comics #413-415, 418-420 (Supergirl and Zatanna features), 457-459 (Eclipso, Deadman, and Elongated Man features), 460-466 (Deadman), 467-468 (Plastic Man) (1978-1980)

All Star Western #11 (El Diablo) (1972)

Marvel[edit]

Other publishers[edit]

  • TV

Action Man (2000 TV series)

Avengers: United They Stand

-"Command Decision"

Batman: The Animated Series

-"Moon of the Wolf"

-"Off Balance"

-"Blind as a Bat"

-"The Demon's Quest: Part Two"

Godzilla: The Series

-"What Dreams May Come"

Iron Man

-"Fire and Rain"

Spider-Man: The Animated Series

-"The Alien Costume: Part One" (co-written with John Semper, Meg McLaughlin, and Stan Berkowitz)

-"Venom Returns" (co-written with John Semper and Stan Berkowitz)

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Len Wein at INDUCKS
  2. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Wolfman, Marv (March 30, 2003). "Speaking With... Len Wein". "What Th--?" (column). Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on December 16, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Stroud, Bryan D. (2008). "Len Wein Interview". The Silver Age Sage. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ Cronin, Brian (2009). Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed. Plume. ISBN 9780452295322. 
  6. ^ Friedt, Stephan (October 2014). "Here Come the Microbots". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (76): 11–13. 
  7. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. 'Swamp Thing' was the name of Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson's turn-of-the-century tale, and its popularity with readers led a modernized version of the character into his own series a year later. 
  8. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 153: "Following his debut in House of Secrets No. 92 in 1971, the Swamp Thing grew into his own series, albeit with a reimagining of his origins by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson."
  9. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 154: "Scribe Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson left Swamp Thing some company...the woman who would become Swamp Thing's soul mate, Abigail Arcane."
  10. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 152 "Through an impromptu team-up of the JLA and the Justice Society on Earth-2, writer Len Wein and artist Dick Dillin ushered in the return of DC's Seven Soldiers of Victory."
  11. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 156 "The annual Justice League-Justice Society get-together resulted in scribe Len Wein and artist Dick Dillin transporting both teams to the alternate reality of Earth-X. There, Nazi Germany ruled after winning a prolonged World War II and only a group of champions called the Freedom Fighters remained to oppose the regime."
  12. ^ Larnick, Eric (October 30, 2010). "The Rutland Halloween Parade: Where Marvel and DC First Collided". ComicsAlliance.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011. 
  13. ^ Cronin, Brian (October 1, 2010). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #280". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on December 5, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011. 
  14. ^ Amazing Adventures #16 (Jan. 1973), Justice League of America #103 (Dec. 1972), and Thor #207 (Jan. 1973) at the Grand Comics Database
  15. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 160 "Through the words of scripter Len Wein and the art of Dick Dillin, the masked menace of Libra established himself as a grave threat to the World's Greatest Heroes."
  16. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 153 "Starting as a back-up feature in the pages of Action Comics, scribe Len Wein and artist Carmine Infantino introduced Christopher Chance, a master of disguise who would turn himself into a human target – provided you could meet his price."
  17. ^ "Human Target on ABC" TVGuide.com Retrieved January 31, 2011
  18. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1970s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 68. ISBN 978-0756692360. 
  19. ^ Manning "1970s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 85: "To signify the start of this new era Spider-Man's new regular chronicler writer Len Wein would come onboard with [The Amazing Spider-Man #151]."
  20. ^ DeAngelo, Daniel (July 2013). "The Not-Ready-For-Super-Team Players A History of the Defenders". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (65): 6–7. 
  21. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 167. ISBN 978-0756641238. Len Wein wrote and Herb Trimpe drew Wolverine's cameo appearance in The Incredible Hulk No. 180 and his premiere in issue #181. 
  22. ^ Buttery, Jarrod (February 2014). "Hulk Smash!: The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (70): 11–12. 
  23. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 169: "[Editor Roy] Thomas realized that if X-Men was to be successfully revived, it needed an exciting new concept. Thomas came up with just such an idea: the X-Men would become an international team, with members from other countries as well as the United States. Writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum were assigned to the new project and the result was Giant-Size X-Men #1."
  24. ^ Krug, Kurt Anthony (April 22, 2009). "Legends: Chris Claremont". Mania.com. Archived from the original on August 4, 2013. 
  25. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 180 "Batman No. 307 (Jan. 1979) Writer Len Wein and artist John Calnan introduced Bruce Wayne's new executive, Lucius Fox, in this issue of Batman."
  26. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 179: "Writer Len Wein and artist Marshall Rogers vividly depicted Batman's battle with a third Clayface."
  27. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1980s" in Dolan, p. 187 "Written by Len Wein, with art by John Byrne and Jim Aparo, The Untold Legend of the Batman...delved into the origin of the fabled Dark Knight."
  28. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 195 "Written by Len Wein and illustrated by José Luis García-López, the comic saw...Batman and the Hulk doing battle with both the Joker and Marvel's ultra-powerful Shaper of Worlds."
  29. ^ Mangels, Andy (February 2011). "Opening the Box: Pandora Pann's Lost Adventures". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (46): 37. 
  30. ^ Len Wein (editor) at the Grand Comics Database
  31. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 219 "The Blue Beetle swung into his own DC series with the help of writer Len Wein and artist Paris Cullins."
  32. ^ Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 221 "DC's next big crossover showcased John Byrne's pencils on all six of the miniseries' issues. Entitled Legends, this new limited series was plotted by writer John Ostrander and scripted by Len Wein...By the series' end, the stage was set for several new ongoing titles, including...the Suicide Squad, as well as the Justice League."
  33. ^ a b Rogers, Vaneta (May 18, 2010). "Len Wein Retells 75 Years of DCU History in Legacies". Newsarama. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Tivo Alert!" WeinWords July 15, 2008 Retrieved February 1, 2011
  35. ^ Totilo, Stephen (July 23, 2008). "Watchmen Video Game Preview: Rorschach And Nite Owl Star In Subversive Prequel Set In 1970s". MTV News. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Dan Didio Talks Legacies, Who's Who". DC Comics. January 7, 2010. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. 
  37. ^ DC Retroactive: Batman – The '70s at the Grand Comics Database
  38. ^ Wein, Len (2011). DC Universe: Legacies. DC Comics. p. 336. ISBN 9781401231330. 
  39. ^ Hyde, David (February 1, 2012). "DC Entertainment Officially Announces Before Watchmen". DC Comics. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  40. ^ Wolfman, Marv (n.d.). "Speaking With Len Wein Part Two". MarvWolfman.com. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. 
  41. ^ Thomas, Roy. "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel comics cover-dated January 1974.
  42. ^ Wein, Len (April 28, 2012). "WeinWords". LenWein.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. Two weeks ago, my lovely wife Christine and I went to Chicago for the C2E2 Convention. 
  43. ^ Evanier, Mark. "Dreadful News", "POV Online: News from Me", column of April 6, 2009
  44. ^ "J! Archive – Christine Valada player page and contestant blog". Retrieved March 28, 2010. 
  45. ^ 1972 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards at the Comic Book Awards Almanac
  46. ^ 1973 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards at the Comic Book Awards Almanac
  47. ^ Comic-Con International's Inkpot Awards San Diego Comic-Con International
  48. ^ Past Stoker Nominees & Winners Horror Writer's Association
  49. ^ The Comics Reporter, July 31, 2008: "Jackie Estrada on the 2008 Eisner Awards"

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Roy Thomas
Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief
1974–1975
Succeeded by
Marv Wolfman
Preceded by
n/a
Swamp Thing writer
1971–1974
Succeeded by
David Michelinie
Preceded by
Mike Friedrich
Justice League of America writer
1972–1974
Succeeded by
Dennis O'Neil
Preceded by
Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas
The Incredible Hulk writer
1974–1977
Succeeded by
Roger Stern
Preceded by
Gerry Conway
The Amazing Spider-Man writer
1975–1978
Succeeded by
Marv Wolfman
Preceded by
Bill Mantlo
Thor writer
1975–1978
(with Marv Wolfman in 1976)
Succeeded by
Roy Thomas
Preceded by
Mike Friedrich
Iron Man writer
1976
(with Roger Slifer in part of the run)
Succeeded by
Bill Mantlo
Preceded by
Gerry Conway
Fantastic Four writer
1977–1978
Succeeded by
Marv Wolfman
Preceded by
Steve Englehart
Detective Comics writer
1978
Succeeded by
Dennis O'Neil
Preceded by
Ross Andru
Justice League of America editor
1979–1984
Succeeded by
Alan Gold
Preceded by
Ross Andru
The Flash editor
1979–1982
Succeeded by
Mike W. Barr
Preceded by
Ross Andru
Wonder Woman editor
1979–1982
Succeeded by
Marv Wolfman
Preceded by
Jack C. Harris
World's Finest Comics editor
1981–1982
Succeeded by
Mike W. Barr
Preceded by
n/a
The New Teen Titans editor
1980–1983
Succeeded by
Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
Preceded by
n/a
All-Star Squadron editor
1981–1982
Succeeded by
Roy Thomas
Preceded by
n/a
Saga of the Swamp Thing editor
1982–1984
Succeeded by
Karen Berger
Preceded by
n/a
Watchmen editor
1986–1987
Succeeded by
Barbara Randall
Preceded by
Greg Potter
Wonder Woman writer
1987–1988
Succeeded by
George Pérez
Preceded by
Dwayne McDuffie
Justice League of America writer
2009–2009
Succeeded by
James Robinson